Saturday, December 20, 2008

The naive life

I've drawn up to strip #45 now. I've inked up to #38. Yay!

As I get better at drawing the strip, I also get more adventurous - which Lisa Simpson's fish sticks me back to mediocrity! (Two posts in a row with that analogy. Go me!) I still don't have the sense of composition that comes with cartooning experience, so sometimes I get myself into trouble. My character's hand motions can interfere with dialog space. Too much dialog can force characters off-panel. Who is speaking and the amount of dialog can cause the hierarchy of a panel's layout to be confused. Adding one extra element to a strip means you have to remember it for all subsequent strips. Some characters look awful when shown from the wrong angles. I can learn these things, but it takes a while to internalize them. Until then, I stumble upon the same mistakes over and over.

And there are some things I screw up because I am so innocent. First, I created a character named "Bud Oven" whose father is a hippie type with a hydroponics lab. At NO POINT did I see the implications there. I find pot disgusting, so it never enters my mind. Oh well. I love the name and I think the potheads should be the ones to concede. They suck; I don't. Case closed.

In this arc, each character is given a balloon with their first name's initial on it. A few strips back, I discovered Tiffany and Autumn become T&A on balloons. In this strip, I originally had the two balloon initials reversed. Bud and Jacob... BJ. Yay! Also, two balloons beside each other look like a butt.

This whole strip was ruined by ambition. Instead of a generic character monologing in white space strip, I decided to spice it up. Since the game of chess becomes a big theme in the next batch of strips, I thought I'd make it look like Bud formulated his strategy by staring down at a chess set. BIG MISTAKE. Putting the games and balloons there was an attempt to avoid drawing Jacob's lower half. What it did was force me to screw up the angles on all subsequent panels - forcing me to draw BOTH boys sitting down, which is very difficult for me at this point. The "looking down at the board" panel is also ruined by my BJ balloon ass. Also, a close-up of a game box forces you to, y'know, draw the box. Drawing the box forces you to do some graphic design for a box that never should have been in the strip in the first place. Fail.

On the bright side, sometimes ambition does pay off. My Sky intro strip is wonderful in how it involves the Et swarm. (Although I had to go back in the next strip and awkwardly add an explaination as to why the kids suddenly dissapeared.) Drawing Ivy Pingo in a flower shirt was a whim that worked well enough. Overall, even when I feel I've screwed up an ambitious strip, I can just go back to the Precocious archives and see how far I've come.

The strips online have been drawn in three batches, and it's incredibly clear where the breaks fell once I went back to review them. Most of the time, an artist is way too close to the work to see it objectively, so my impression is based on the feeling I had at the time of the strip's drawing. Looking back, while I feel the same level of frustration with each strip, it's clear each batch is FAR superior to the last.

The down side of this is that, as I get better, my rate of improvement slows. Batch four (probably strips 31-44) doesn't seem to be that big of a step forward. Hell, I'll settle for competence. From here on out, things are going to get really complex. 45 is my trial run for the next batch. It's a strip that can be as simple or complex as I want. If I'm ambitious, it will have backgrounds and a nice comic background for the last panel. The goal is to do that stuff. I can make 45 work, that's a good sign that I'm ready to draw the last strips.

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